HALL OF FAME BOWL : Upstart Duke, Wisconsin Pursue Extra Momentum
For Wisconsin and Duke, two of the most surprising teams in the 1993 and ’94 college football seasons, the Hall of Fame Bowl is a starting point for their next mission: Keep the momentum going.
Both teams go into today’s game knowing they’ve got plenty of work ahead to maintain the substantial progress that has been made in a short time.
Wisconsin appears to have more pressing immediate needs. The Badgers are 16-5-2 over the last two seasons, the most victories in successive years at Wisconsin in more than nine decades, but they’ll be hit hard by graduation losses.
The Badgers (6-4-1) must replace six starters on offense and an equal number on defense. Wisconsin players bowing out after the Hall of Fame Bowl include Terrell Fletcher, the Badgers’ career all-purpose yardage leader; center Cory Raymer, Wisconsin’s first consensus All-American since Tim Krumrie in 1981; defensive tackle Mike Thompson, who owns every sack record at the school, and the Badgers’ entire secondary.
But Coach Barry Alvarez--who went from a 1-10 record in 1990, his first year at Wisconsin, to leading the Badgers to the Big Ten championship and a Rose Bowl victory last season--isn’t about to hit the panic button.
“I like where we are,” he said. “I like the fact that we’ve played two January 1 bowl games in a row. I think we’ll have a good nucleus next year. I’d be surprised if we don’t have a nice team.”
Duke went from 3-8 last season to 8-3 under first-year Coach Fred Goldsmith, marking the best turnaround in school history and matching the biggest turnaround in the country this season.
“We’ve been fortunate to be surrounded with good assistant coaches, especially the last two years at Rice and the fellas that came with us here to Duke,” Goldsmith said. “I think that’s a big, big plus, because they’re positive people. Not all the people were positive, I think, that had an effect on this team in the past. And we’ve also been blessed with good health.”
HALL OF FAME
* Teams: Duke vs. Wisconsin.
* Site: Tampa Stadium, Tampa, Fla.
* Time: 8 a.m. PST
* Records: Duke 8-3, Wisconsin 6-4-1.
* TV: ESPN.
* Radio: None.